Ulysses S. Grant: A Presidency Plagued with Scandals

Essay by tutiifruitii16High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2005

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Ulysses S. Grant was president during a time known as the gilded age, a time when all appeared to be good, but the actuality was the government was corrupt with scandals. Although he may have been a great wartime hero and military leader, he had little experience or knowledge to perform as a good president, and this would show when he was elected to office in 1868, and the scandals began. Five prominent scandals would come about in Grant's eight years as America's president. The main scandals of the presidency are the Spoils System, Black Friday, Crédit Mobilier, the Salary Grab, and the Whiskey Ring.

One of the first scandals in Grant's presidency was that he reinstituted the spoils system. Unfortunately, Grant did not select strong leaders, but rather close personal friends, like Secretary of War John A. Rawlins, and campaign contributors like the wealthy Secretary of the Navy, Adolph Edward Borie. While Grant's selections seemed like a good idea at the time, the appointments created an environment in which few members of the administration fully understood what happened in their departments. The only 'blessing' in appointing his friends was Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State, who was qualified and had the knowledge to guide and carry foreign policy throughout Grant's presidency.

The first major problem of Grant's administration arose over gold. Grant obeyed the conservative Republicans who believed that the United States needed to rid itself of the paper money, greenbacks, issued during the war, and revert back to hard money. Grant therefore signed legislation declaring the government's intention to cash in the paper money for gold; Jay Gould and Jim Fisk were ready. The Secretary of the Treasury controlled about a hundred million dollars of gold, and each month he was to sell some of it and retire...